Monday, September 29, 2008

World's Biggest Atlas

Copies of the largest world atlas ever produced have gone on sale at an earth-shattering price of £2,000 each.

Dubbed “the ultimate book about our world”, the luxurious, limited edition Earth is hand-bound in leather with gilded edges and silver-plated corners.

The atlas and its case together weigh 30kg – more than the maximum many airlines set passengers for their baggage allowance.

The 576 pages contain 154 maps and 800 photographs backed with detailed descriptions of every country’s geography, history and culture. Lying closed, the atlas takes up a third of a square metre with four gatefolds opening out to two square metres each.

Ten cartographic experts at the British map company Global Mapping spent eight months compiling Earth with more than 100 overseas colleagues including fellow map makers, geographers and oceanographers. They worked with detail from a continuously updated world database of digital mapping.

Global Mapping’s Alan Smith said: “We all had to keep to the same, consistent specification to make sure everything tied in universally from the way we shaded hills to the presentation of political geography. The sheer physical size of the atlas is amazing. The overall content, including the maps, text and photographs, is very much more detailed than any other atlas ever produced.”

Only 3,000 hand-numbered copies of Earth have been made – one for every 3.3 million people in the world. The atlas is expected to appeal to specialist collectors, libraries, rich individuals with a penchant for mapping and companies seeking lavish, once-in-a-lifetime corporate gifts. Taking the exclusive level even higher, one thousand copies from the print run have had their covers redone in gold leather with gold plated corners at the request of distributors in the Middle East.

Earth is the brainchild of Australian map publisher Gordon Cheers who has already received several hundred orders for copies. He described it as “a time capsule of where we are in the world today”.

The atlas may be impressive but its 30kg weight still pales into insignificance when compared to the mass of the planet itself – estimated at an unpronounceable 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg.

Earth can be order via Worlds Biggest Atlas

Global Mapping publishes a range of wall maps and supplies maps for travel guides, book packaging, planning applications and many other activities in business, government and leisure. Based in Northamptonshire, the company has a wealth of experience in mapping for print, CD, GIS and Internet.

Global Warming:Europe is warming faster...

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Climate Change - Cities Are The Solution, Not The Problem

Cities are unfairly blamed for greenhouse gas emissions by misguided politicians and well-meaning people who listen to them, and this threatens efforts to truly impact climate change, warns a study in the October 2008 issue of the journal Environment and Urbanization. The paper says cities are commonly blamed for 75 to 80 percent of emissions but that the true value is around half that and the potential for cities to help address climate change is being overlooked because of this error. 

United Nations agencies, former US President Bill Clinton’s climate change initiative and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg have all claimed that between 75 and 80 per cent of emissions come from cities even though data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that only 40 percent of all greenhouse gases are from human activities generated within cities.

“Blaming cities for greenhouse gas emissions misses the point that cities are a large part of the solution,” says the paper’s author, David Satterthwaite, a Senior Fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). “Well planned, well governed cities can provide high living standards that do not require high consumption levels and high greenhouse gas emissions.”

Satterthwaite says agriculture and deforestation account for another 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and the final 30 percent are from heavy industry, coal, oil or gas fuelled power stations located in non-metropolitan areas and wealthy households, like politicians live in when they are misstating data.

The paper also highlights how it can be misleading to allocate greenhouse gas emissions to places at all. For instance, emissions from power stations should be allocated to those that consume the electricity, not the places where the power stations are located. Emissions generated by industries would therefore be shared by the person consuming the goods the industries produce. 

“Consumer demand drives the production of goods and services, and therefore the emission of greenhouse gases,” says Satterthwaite. “Allocating emissions to consumers rather than producers shows that the problem is not cities but a minority of the world’s population with high-consumption lifestyles. A large proportion of these consumers live not in cities but in small towns and rural areas.” 

Allocating greenhouse gas emissions to consumers increases the share of global emissions from Europe and North America, which makes self-loathing activists happy, but also clarifies the very low emissions per person of most city inhabitants in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

In general, wealthy people outside cities are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than those in cities as they have larger homes that need to be heated or cooled, more automobiles per household and greater automobile use.

“The way cities are designed and run can make a big difference,” says Satterthwaite. “Most cities in the United States have three to five times the gasoline use per person of most European cities but not three to five times the living standards.”

Satterthwaite points out that cities offer many opportunities to reduce per capita greenhouse gas emissions, such as by promoting walking, bicycling and public transport and having building designs that require much less energy for heating and cooling.

“Achieving the needed reductions in greenhouse gas emissions worldwide depends on seeing and acting on the potential of cities to combine a high quality of life with low greenhouse gas emissions,” he says.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The freshwater biome

Freshwater is defined as having a low salt concentration — usually less than 1%. Plants and animals in freshwater regions are adjusted to the low salt content and would not be able to survive in areas of high salt concentration (i.e., ocean). There are different types of freshwater regions:

Ponds and lakes
Streams and rivers


Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Birth of Eart's Moon: Giant Impact Theory

At the time Earth formed 4.5 billion years ago, other smaller planetary bodies were also growing. One of these hit earth late in Earth’s growth process, blowing out rocky debris. A fraction of that debris went into orbit around the Earth and aggregated into the moon.

The Giant Impact, as pictured in a painting by William K. Hartmann on the cover of Natural History Magazine in 1981. Copyright William K. Hartmann

Half an Hour After the Giant Impact, based on computer modeling by A. Cameron, W. Benz, J. Melosh, and others. Copyright William K. Hartmann

Five Hours After Impact, based on computer modeling by A. Cameron, W. Benz, J. Melosh, and others. Copyright William K. Hartmann

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

World's glaciers facing huge threat: UN

The United Nations said  that swathes of mountain ranges worldwide risk losing their glaciers by the end of the century if global warming continues at its projected rate.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said in a report that whilst nature has always observed a certain periodic rate of deglaciation, the current trends observed from the Arctic to Central Europe and South America are of a different order.

"The ongoing trend of worldwide and rapid, if not accelerating, glacier shrinkage on the century time scale is most likely to be of a non-periodic nature, and may lead to the deglaciation of large parts of many mountain ranges by the end of the 21st century," the report warned.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

GeoEye-1 successfully launched - now see the world better than ever

USA - GeoEye-1 the super-sharp Earth-imaging satellite was launched into orbit on 6th of September from Vandenberg Air Force Base on the Central California coast. A Delta 2 rocket carrying the GeoEye-1 satellite lifted off at 11:50 a.m. Video on the GeoEye Web site showed the satellite separating from the rocket moments later on its way to an eventual polar orbit. 

The satellite makers say GeoEye-1 has the highest resolution of any commercial imaging system. It can collect images from orbit with enough detail to show home plate on a baseball diamond. The company says the satellite's imaging services will be sold for uses that could range from environmental mapping to agriculture and defense. 

GeoEye-1 was lifted into a near-polar orbit by a 12-story-tall United Launch Alliance Delta II 7420-10 configuration launch vehicle. The launch vehicle and associate support services were procured by Boeing Launch Services. The company expects to offer imagery and products to customers in the mid- to late-October timeframe.
The GeoEye-1 Satellite

GeoEye-1, designed and built by General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, is the world's highest resolution commercial imaging satellite. Designed to take color images of the Earth from 423 miles (681 kilometers) in space and moving at a speed of about four-and-a-half miles (seven kilometers) per second, the satellite will make 15 earth orbits per day and collect imagery with its ITT-built imaging system that can distinguish objects on the Earth's surface as small as 0.41-meters (16 inches) in size in the panchromatic (black and white) mode. The 4,300-pound satellite will also be able to collect multispectral or color imagery at 1.65-meter ground resolution. While the satellite will be able to collect imagery at 0.41-meters, GeoEye's operating license from NOAA requires re-sampling the imagery to half-meter resolution for all customers not explicitly granted a waiver by the U.S. Government.

The satellite will be able to see an object the size of home plate on a baseball diamond but also map the location of an object that size to within about nine feet (three meters) of its true location on the surface of the Earth without need for ground control points. Together, GeoEye's IKONOS and GeoEye-1 satellites can collect almost one million square kilometers of imagery per day.

With the ability to revisit any location on the globe every three days, and at lesser resolution more frequently, GeoEye-1 will enable customers to receive imagery updates on a regular basis and is ideal for large-scale mapping projects. This capability will benefit a broad array of industries including national defense and intelligence, online mapping, state and local governments, environmental monitoring and land use management, oil and gas, utilities, disaster management, insurance and others. 

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Simple Actions to Reduce Global Warming

The future is not somewhere we are going. It is something we are creating. Every day we do things that make some futures more probable and others less likely.

Global warming already disrupts millions of lives daily in the forms of destructive weather patterns and loss of habitat. What is already happening is only the tip of the melting iceberg, for it is our children and grandchildren who may suffer most from the effects of global warming. Hundreds of millions of people may be exposed to famine, water shortages, extreme weather conditions and a 20 - 30% loss of animal and plant species if we don’t reduce the rate of global warming and reduce GHG emissions.This article outlines some ways that you can act to help prevent the Earth from warming further. While humankind has the ability to destroy the planet, we can also help protect and sustain it.
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Friday, September 5, 2008

Iran launch of Omid successful

Iran announced Sunday that it launched a satellite into space earlier in the day, the country’s first domestically made.

The satellite, Omid (hope), was launched Sunday by using Safir (ambassador) satellite-carrier rocket, the armed forces said in a statement, quoted by the official IRNA news agency.

The Omid Satellite which was successfully fired on the birth anniversary of the last Imam (prophet) of Shiites, Hazrat Mahdi (who is believed to reappear at the end of the world) illustrated the auspicious name of the Imam in the space, IRNA said.

According to Iran’s English-language Press TV satellite channel, the domestically manufactured Omid Satellite will pass over the country six times a day.

The launch of Safir rocket aimed to test remote sensing, satellite telemetry, and geographic information system (GIS) technology as well as remote and ground station data processing, Press TV said.

Another news agency Fars quoted government spokesman Gholam- Hossein Elham as saying that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was at the launch of the communications satellite from Iran’s space station.

In February, Iran said it has prepared for the satellite launch by sending a probe into space of a rocket on the mission.

Ahmadinejad announced in his press interview in Istanbul Friday that Iran would in near future launch its first domestic satellite to the space.

Iran, embroiled in a standoff with the West over its disputed nuclear ambitions, has pursued a space program for several years, according to media reports.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Isro,India to launch Italian, Algerian satellites

India - Antrix Corp. Ltd, the commercial arm of India’s space agency, has won a pair of deals from Algeria and Italy to launch earth observation satellites next year on the polar satellite launch vehicle, or PSLV, its workhorse rocket. 

The contract awarded by the Algerian space agency to launch Alsat-2A, a 200kg remote sensing satellite, is the first won by Antrix from an African nation. The Algerian agency has the option to launch a second such satellite. For the Italian space agency Agenzia Spaziale Italiana, Antrix will launch a satellite named IMSAT, which will be the second Italian satellite to be boosted into space by the Indian Space Research Organisation, or ISRO, which in April 2007 launched Agile, a 352kg scientific satellite. 

The Algerian and Italian satellites, besides a 100kg satellite for Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and Cubesat, a three-satellite package from the Netherlands, would ride piggyback on heavier Indian satellites, said K.R. Sridhara Murthi, managing director of Antrix. He didn’t disclose financial details.

Antrix is also in talks with space agencies of South Africa and Nigeria to carry out similar launches, Murthi said. “We are also looking at opportunities bigger than that—remote sensing satellites, where payloads (are) of 800kg or even higher.” 

ISRO offers the home-grown PSLV to carry satellites of up to 1,700kg into low-earth orbit at a cost that’s nearly 30% cheaper than that charged by firms such as International Launch Services, owned by Space Transport Inc. and two Russian organizations, Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia. Low-earth orbit is the region above earth between 200km and 2,000km, ideal to place earth observation or remote sensing satellites. 

India is still a fledgling competitor in the global satellite manufacturing and launch industry, which is expected to grow to $145 billion (Rs6.3 trillion) over 10 years to 2016, from $116 billion in the 10 years to 2006, according to Paris-based research firm Euroconsult.

“(ISRO’s) benchmark is with international specifications on quality, reliability and credibility of the systems. And then, you are also cost competitive,” said K. Kasturirangan, director of the National Institute of Advanced Studies, a think tank in Bangalore. “The opportunity is just growing.” 

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